Skip to main content

tv   American History TV  CSPAN  September 6, 2014 2:00pm-3:06pm EDT

2:00 pm
upcoming programming semi . discusseshomas devine henry wallace's 1948 campaign for president as the nominee of the press of party. wallace served as vice president under fdr, before being placed by harry truman for the 1944 election. professor devine argues the wallace's campaign strategy of focusing on courting minorities in the jim crow south, alienated much of the white electorate. despite wallace is effort, the majority of african-americans decided to vote for president truman. wallace came in fourth in the general election. finishing with fewer votes in the other third-party candidate, strom thurmond. this event from the kansas city public library in missouri is about one hour. >> i printed this out and big enough font but i don't the guy
2:01 pm
will need these. thank you. i appreciate the reduction. there are a few people i would like to thank. burden, geoff gaul, the , andn library institute the kauffman foundation, who is helping to support all of this. also to lisa sullivan, who is been so helpful getting me prepared, and making sure everything goes off well tonight. i think her as well. i also wanted to thank to with her people. my friend and colleague steve berg, who teaches at fort leavenworth. he pretty much taught me how to be a professor. i appreciate that. i also appreciate my ophthalmologist. if you buy the book, it is dedicated to my ophthalmologist. a few years ago i had a terrible series of eye surgeries. it saved my vision and my life
2:02 pm
as i wanted to live it. if you ever have our troubles in southern california, look them up here in he is pretty much the best there is. without further a do, i will talk specifically tonight not all of the different aspects of the wallace campaign, but just give you a little sliver. a particular of his tour through the south in august and september of 1948. in many ways, it was an opening hurled for what became the civil rights movement in the 1960's. at the end, i would be glad to about any thing involvement of american communists, anything on foreign policy, i'm glad to answer questions. i think my focus will be primarily on the southern shore. tour. i will use the glasses. henry wallace boarded a plane to norfolk virginia. he launched a weeklong, seven
2:03 pm
ur.te 72 or -- southern to his decision to challenge segregation in the heart of the jim crow south grabbed front-page headlines across the country. it won the progressive party the most sustained media coverage it would receive throughout the entire campaign. had it not been for president truman's dramatic comeback, the tour of the south would have been the biggest event of the year. many believed his trip would focus naked shall i -- nationwide attention on segregation, and unite southern working-class blacks and whites against those who exploited racial divisions to preserve their own special privilege. in the short-term, they hoped 's courageous attempt
2:04 pm
would win them liberals in the north, inspire voter registration among blacks in the south, and giving the party the shot and the arm it so badly needed. that the southern masses of both races constituted a natural alliance, wallace offered his party to the south as a vehicle through which the common man, as he always referred to the average person, could challenge and ultimately overcome the dominance of the southern aristocracy, who had long prevented the development of genuine democracy in dixie. especially in the one-party that, progressives argued the only realistic strategy to combat the wealthy white reactionaries monopoly on political power was to build a new party to represent the interests of farmers, and working people. in building such a political force, they maintained, southerners of both races would come to understand they need each other's help to succeed. for years, segregation and the
2:05 pm
fanning of racial animosity had obstructed the progress of black and white alike. but the specious barrier of racism that blocked majority rule could be overcome. wallace's party, his support ers believed to be the catalyst for change. henry wallace's invasion of dixie they hoped might finally unleash the political aggressive as an -- progressivism they were convinced existed in the south. wallace is southern expedition began in virginia. state law prohibited non-segregated public meetings. the progressives had announced the outset of their campaign, that the parties candidates would not address segregated audiences. this was a first for presidential nominees. appearances before crowds in norfolk, suffolk, and richmond, wallace held true to
2:06 pm
his pledge, speaking to integrated assemblies without incident. encouraged by his successful challenge to segregation, he remarked to reporters afterwards -- if what i saw in virginia today is any criteria to what we will get further on, then i think i will going to be satisfied. wallace was unaware however that the state progressive committee, hoping to avoid controversy, had issued invitations to these events, thus making them private gatherings and not subject to the law. halfway,rogressives the local police department's had agreed not to interfere. book to, wallace relatively small and predominately african-american crowds. the white progressive masses that the party expected to attract were nowhere in sight. by comparison, with a noisy cheering the generally greets residential candidate's onto tour,
2:07 pm
his head erie quality of a silent movie in the theater without a piano player. still, for traditionally liberal north carolina, the success of the planned event spoke well for the vitality of southern progressivism. had what amounted to a false sense of security for what was coming. ways, with many their own preconceptions of what the south was going to be like, what was coming was going to be different story. unlike virginia, the tar heel state had no laws forbidding integrated gatherings. again, a source of hope. proud of the reputation for tolerance and moderation, especially on the race issue, white north carolinians were not immune to charges that they looked down their noses at their presumably more backward neighbors in the rest of dixie.
2:08 pm
as the day of his arrival approach, progressive party state chair mary price proudly announced the candidate had decided to spend an action day in north carolina, because he was convinced that the most permissive state in the south inld go progressive november. i think they genuinely believed many of these progressives, that somehow, the state of north carolina would vote for candidate who was openly against segregation. to my own way of thinking, i find it hard to believe that they convinced themselves of that. but i think it was genuine. he had high expectations, they were overstated, but perhaps, at the time they were understandable. theh carolina boasted southmost progressive organization. it drew support from a variety of sources. in the early days of the campaign, college students in particular rallied to the wallace cause. even before the formation of the third party, a group at the
2:09 pm
university of north carolina had established a wallace for president committee. i actually have the opportunity to talk with a few of them while i was doing the research, much older now. in february, the organizers brought together over 130 students from across the state for a two-day rally in chapel hill. on august 3, the party defied expectations, and a good deal of white hostility, by successfully concluding a petition drive that got wallace on the ballot. they collected a most 30,000 signatures. in the process, canvassers registered blacks to vote in at least six counties where no african-americans had been a liberal for over six years. by doing so, they had taken initial step towards building the broad electoral base needed to overthrow the old political elite, and its dual commitment to segregation and economic deprivation of the workers. when wallace advisor observed
2:10 pm
the black and white volunteers that spark plug the effort demonstrated that a biracial grassroots movement had potential to succeed in the south in 1948. most tar heel progressive activist share this positive outlook t. as they prepared for the wallace visit, many were basking in the glow of their hard-fought victory. --ale was high, and autism optimism was the rule of the day. in hollywood they call it laying pipes. but there is another part of the story. you have to know that before we tell the actual events of that three day period. dynamics ofk at the the campaign raises doubts about how broad-based the party was. years later, an active participant, and at the time, and open, and his party member
2:11 pm
they uncovered a wealth of radical populist throughout the state. he noted a just before vision -- a disproportionate amount of work was done by communists. most of them from new york city. these men and women were instructed to keep their party affiliation secret. though they were, he said, a great many other people supporting the campaign in one way or another, the communists from new york for the shock troops. they encountered hostility from poor whites, many of them would fade away, leaving a small cadre of communists and their allies to fill the vacuum. presence of native radicals gave the whole campaign a much broader appearance that really had. nor did the success of the petition drive necessarily indicate widespread support for progressives.
2:12 pm
party headquarters in greensboro avoidvised canvassers to discussion of the issues, and to base their appeal for signatures only on wallace's right to be on the ballot. for the ardent left-wingers from the north, another local activist recalled, they acted somewhat like occupying troops in a foreign country. idealistic, but insufferably arrogant. they posed as deliverers, and expected to be honored as such. it took a pretty sturdy liberal to put up with some of the things that the progressive party leaders had to take from the communist party. aeferring their politics with sharp ideological edge, and unwilling to adjust to southern racial customs, these zealous partisans like we did more to alienate prospective progressive converts than to broaden the party's base. the biracial nature of the
2:13 pm
progressive coalition likewise remained more a golden a reality during the campaign. realitya goal that a during the campaign. lex and white -- blacks and whites received a cool response. the condescending attitude towards white textile workers no doubt contributed to the antagonism they encountered. we were like missionaries, with all of the thoughts that missionaries have. it's a wonder we weren't all lynched, said a man afterwards. in many campaigns for social justice, where people of great the illinois deal is and go into an unfamiliar up creating aend backlash. they are not met with the response they hoped they would get ri. it applies in for policy as
2:14 pm
well. this great crusading mentality can sometimes make people very committed, but at the same time, can also undermine their goals. i saw this a lot in the course of 1948 with the wallace campaign. the party leaders emphasize the importance of establishing a presence in the working-class white areas. most volunteers preferred working in black neighborhoods, where they ran less risk of having doors slammed in their faces. as a result, early progressives had become known as the negro party. in particular, the middle-class leadership in the black community remained wary of wallace's chris aid -- crusade. one of the states most influential african-american political association endorsed president truman. similarly, the president of the state inland cp -- an aa cp said wallace was no way to solve the
2:15 pm
political problem. they were skeptical of the motives of the progressives in the south. was wary ofbor also wallace, in part because of larger domestic concerns about a law that was passed in 1947. they feared that wallace was taking away votes from the democrats, and a republic and victory in 1948 would be bad for labor. accordingly, they felt any attempt to split democratic forces was either being orchestrated by republicans, or was ill advised. labor throughout the country was quite skeptical. right at the moment wallace was arriving, and unexcited bombshell from washington undercut progressives populations. on july 30, elizabeth bentley, who was known as the blondes by queen, andonde spy
2:16 pm
ii,ge that during world war the north a share of the progressive party, had served as a courier of the kgb. price had been introduced her as a member of the american communist policy. cables corroborated her territory, and indicated continued her activities. she flatly denied those allegations, dismissing them as fantastic. the allegations sounded far-fetched to north carolinians, and the local press x breast -- local press expressed skepticism. of communismluence in the press of party, and it made attacks seem more justified.
2:17 pm
still, charges and countercharges concerning communist influence served less detrimental to the party then it's confrontational and it times disingenuous approach to opposing segregation. on august 27, mary price canceled the wallace parties reservation, because it would not accommodate the black members as a segregated hotel. a hastily arranged press the party announced would stay at it will do black businessman's house. others would be launched at the biltmore, a black hotel. this principle refusal to submit to jim crow was come and it felt -- was, in itself, and rubble. -- admirable. it had been targeted to provoke, particularly when it came to light that she had known about
2:18 pm
the policy and segregation for some time. southern papers also noted that on previous speaking tours, wallace had stayed in numerous northern hotels that imposed the same restriction. -- width of hypocrisy here southerners were very sensitive to it. one local progressive unmarked -- remarked, he made us carpetbaggers. his proclivity for germanic gestures-- dramatic ran the risk of alienating potential supervisors. it was an approach that is associated with the communists. for rebel city, it wasn't long coming. the press immediately leapt on this issue of the refusal of wallace to stay in a segregated hotel. press were always hostile to any attack on segregation. the diverted attention away from
2:19 pm
wallace's larger message of economic empowerment, and focused instead on the divisive and intentionally explosive issue of equality. local papers ran the news that wallace would be staying in the home of a black man. durhamdwill that white might have felt quickly evaporated. offended, andg being placed on the defiant offensive on the other. residents told northern journalists that the tobacco town was seething with turmoil and anticipation of mr. wallace's arrival. wallace had deliberately outrage the romans. indeed, since they had staked dixie based onin biracial working class university -- diversity, it
2:20 pm
should've been the last thing they wish to do. yet their tactics seem to undercut their strategy. rather than stirring the latent progressivism of the common --ple, wallace is lively wallace's widely publicized opinion mobilize the opposition. the first indication of this came at the durham armory on the night of august 29. about one half hour before his scheduled arrival, 1500 people packed the house to capacity. almost evenly divided racially, and completely integrated, the crowd seemed to be pro-wallace. observers found them predominately middle-class, well-dressed, and well mannered. they joined the guitars p figure, whose music we were hearing, in singing folk songs. -- pete seeger.
2:21 pm
or 30 or so dixiecrat, supporters of south carolina's strom thurmond's fourth party. it had been pounded -- founded to oppose civil rights. a free-for-all erected. -- erupted. they let a charged on the side aisle, one pickett brought it signed down on the head of wallace supporter, and retaliation, a young progressive hit someone with a folding chair. at a wallace aid was stabbed five times, left bleeding on the stairs. in the back of the hall, fists flew wildly as police and national guardsmen through their pistols and on slung their rifles. a warning shot rang out, authorities struggled to regain control.
2:22 pm
curiously, those not in the immediate vicinity of the near riot continued singing. the colored persons in particular, the baltimore after in american reported. iny seem to be contented sitting back and letting the white folks fight it out amongst themselves. police had barely restore order when two doors flung open, and a national guardsmen holding a drawn 45 caliber revolver rushed in. looking to the right and the left, with the mannerisms of a trained soldier entering a building held by the enemy. behind him was henry wallace. smiling broadly, apparently ult,zed by the tamils -- tum wallace approached the microphone and address the boisterous assembly. this, he began, is the most unique introduction i have ever experienced. [laughter] chant of we, a
2:23 pm
want thurmond rang out, and an egg flew. adding to the cacophony of the absurd -- of the adversary. wallace's remarks which condemned segregation and toposed a $4 million grant aid the southern economic element were barely audible to those beyond the first few rows. determined to get his message to -- people, wallace cried what we want for the south? >> we want thurmond. firecrackers went off, terrifying the already nervous crowd. ran to wallace aside, but he calmly urged the assembly to be seated. inspired with the courage of their leader, the progressive
2:24 pm
faithful immediately erected into a high-spirited trapped of we want wallace. at the conclusion of his speech, he joined the gathering in a well-earned moment of silence, followed by a short prayer. even after he departed, reports of violence continued. white hooligans allegedly beat several progressives with clubs and stones, as the durham police looked on without doing anything. it had been a rough night. only hours into a seven-day junket, one journalist reported it was artie apparent that the former vice president's expedition was to be no leisurely meander through the land of cotton. what did people make at the time? tendedn to this incident to break down along regional lines. the national press unanimously condemned wallace's treatment interim. -- in durham. most editorials defended his
2:25 pm
right to free speech, insisting no one should be denied the opportunity to express his views. -- politicals quarrel should be settled and open debate, rather than with eggs and insults. in contrast, his attack on jim crow elicited little substantive comment. the merits of his views on segregation, the new york times remarked, were beside the point. in the south, however, segregation most definitely was the point. while upholding his first amendment rights, did not believe the issue was primarily one of political disagreement. the durham morning herald remains that the hecklers new nothing about his stance, theories, or practices. they booed him because he flaunted socials other custom. tormentors had scarcely heard of wallace 24 hours before.
2:26 pm
those who arrived with mary price did not even know who elizabeth bentley was. some papers imply that wallace and gotten what he deserved for violating accepted racial mores, ignoring the fact that blacks had warmly receive the candidate and invited his entourage into their homes. the conflict with social, not political, the durham son concluded. there was no great feeling of tide moving. seemed readycity for the revolution. in hindsight, the southern born journalist john poppins saw the incident in a similar light. many middle-class people just an believe this could happen, that their way of life should not be challenged by outsiders. violent, they were perfectly willing to express themselves in loud and strong language.
2:27 pm
progressive partisans interpreted events very differently. and morely, conspiratorially. a medially following his address, wallace told a pittsburgh responded that the crowd reaction was quote -- a planned attack by big business. a reprisal for my long and bitter fight against the tobacco trust. other professors on the scene implied the reactionary businessman and politicos, absentee industrial emperors, had organized and pay the demonstrators. american fascism circulated among the wallace poly. -- party. it was interpreted through the lenses of political and flotation, rather than a knowledge the depth of white racism. upon returning from his lost
2:28 pm
trip to the region, wallace had written that he was convinced that the real purpose of maintaining jim crow and racial segregation in public meetings is not hatred of the negro, so much as it is the desire to prevent the expression of aggressive sentiment by debtor privilege. remainedhe common man progressive. progressives, including james t harris, the young men who would been stabbed at the meeting, was not so sure. what hurts me, he said afterwards, is that most of those pickets appeared to be from the poor classes that we are trying to help . a paradox here. liberals largely accepted the view that racial tensions in the south were simply a product of economic scarcity. as the region standard of living rose, during the war and after the war, however, some began to
2:29 pm
question whether prosperity would automatically and merely rate racism. for wallace, this proved a troubling dilemma, sense it called into question the inherent progressive is an of white southerners. rather than confront this it tory, they attributed a small cabal of powerful reactionaries, bent on keeping the candidate from speaking in the south, lest workers hear his message and be inspired. in the wake of the incident, to north caroline a progressives withdrew their names for nomination. both expressed continued support for wallace and his opposition to the cold war, but objected to the parties defiant stance on segregation. even within their own ranks, there are some progressive who wonder if this militant confrontation in the south is the right way to go.
2:30 pm
southern tour the was aptly demonstrate however, building a broad-based political movement while direct the confronting the race issue was exceedingly difficult. the second day of wallace's long broughtng tobacco road more heckling and the threat of further violence. at a stop in burlington, the crowd of white textile workers barraged wallace with eggs and tomatoes. windows,pounded on car hurling insults at wallace's african-american secretary and other frightened passengers. there were people there who thought they were going to die, that they were going to overturn the car and set it on fire. if you think about it, it is who hadsafe for man years before been the president of the united -- the vice president of the united states. when a fist fight broke out between a worker and a man who
2:31 pm
try to hit walls with a rock, rake itfficers moved to up, leaving wallace and protected. he was visibly shaking out with splattered egg on the space, wallace was unable to make himself heard among the shouts of nigger-lover and communist. the crowd quickly broke past police and rush the motorcade, blocking its path. a patrol and pulled his pistol out, cleared the way as the party pulled out of burlington, only 15 minutes after it arrived. the next two stops brought more of the same. and the textile town of greensboro, while this climbed the courthouse stairs to address another angry audience, determined to prevent him from speaking. he shouted over the jeers and catcalls that the south was this due job outside northern corporations.
2:32 pm
to those who heckled him, he expressed profound compassion. most of them have not had enough to eat. remark brought jurors of laughter from -- derisive laughter from the well fed audience. i'm sure that when i meet the real voters of the south, i will meet with a real welcome. stepping away from the podium, he carried back to his car as another volley of eggs and tomatoes splashed on the hood and windshield. had listened, one african american woman told another as they walked away from the rally. i think you just 30 years too soon. another whiteman commented to the greens road daily news as saying 30 years too soon. despite the intensity of these experiences though, wallace's comments to the crowds suggest a curious detachment from his surroundings. the local press quickly picked up on this.
2:33 pm
is it possible that he actually believes that the few who threw , including college students, or really hungry? indeed, wallace seemed unaware that references to those who have not had an fte -- enough to eat, were more of a reflection of himself then an accurate reflection of the crowds. patronizing remarks and only further alienate his audiences. wallace continued to deal with the distractions -- deal in abstractions. seeing only the oppressed masses , subject to the whims of ready corporations, he was fully anticipated the embrace of the real south, that was, he convinced, fund a mentally liberal. on the outskirts of winston-salem, a caravan of enthusiastic african american
2:34 pm
supporters to do their horns, shouting encouragement. it was a stark contrast from the earlier wetlands -- welcomes it had received. party officials remained hopeful that they would garner the support of southern blacks. many of whom belong to the tobacco local 22 of the workers union. the ranges to see firsthand the extent of the support. at wallace's appearance at the southside baseball park on the evening of august 30, black unionists from local 22 turned out in force. african americans made up about 60% of the crowd of 2000. though seating at the rally was nonsegregated, lacks and whites voluntarily separated themselves. this made for a football game atmosphere to which many on the black side cheered we want wallace.
2:35 pm
several and white-collar down with wallace. the audience swarmed with uniformed and plainclothes police, but even the white teenage hecklers seemed more rigid in having a good time than causing trouble. in the midst of a driving rainstorm, he was able to deliver his dress -- address. even received a round of applause. but the cheers and applause did not translate into votes for the progressive party ticket. a union organizer later that while they admired him personally, and agreed with his views on civil rights, they did not want to waste their vote. most of those who cheered wallace that night cast their vote for harry truman in november. i should add it they were able to vote in the south. launched a concerted
2:36 pm
effort to wean away the remaining supporters of wallace. in an open letter to the leaders , the leader of the local democratic club denounced the support of the aggressive party. the political strategy of progressives led union members to a dead-end destination. the reaction to all of this in the press was extensive. it was the most positive attention he got throughout this trip. after the initial excitement in north carolina, news of the southern tour slipped off the front pages. the entourage with soldier on through alabama into louisiana, arkansas, tennessee, though it
2:37 pm
faced hostile crowds and an occasional shower of eggs, there were no further outbreaks of violence. at every step, wallace continued to speak out. less courageous politicians would have refrained from tackling in the old confederacy. at times he became bogged down in confusion or wishful thinking. the former vice president nonetheless sounded the clarion call against the bigotry and hatred so often camouflaged by the euphemism of southern tradition. as the 72 or came to an end in knoxville, the time had come to take stock. at the most superficial level, i can tell you that the newspaper man coming wallace estimated that he is been the target of 77 tomatoes, six peaches, two lemons, one orange, and ice cream cone, and abundant -- a bun. the stink of garbage can be eradicated, but not so the
2:38 pm
corrosive hatred that you encounter, the memory, the hard faces, the baggy middle-aged women. of redneck, tobacco spitting hillbillies who hurled epithets all along the route. just as often though, wallace met apathy. aboutdience totaled 25,000, an average of less than 1000 per speech. a record low for a well-known presidential candidate onto her. -- on tour. no more than 15,000 actually heard the prepared remarks over the incessant heckling. many reflect on the trip significance and effect. what, if anything, had been achieved? to progressives themselves ray pride in the trip. as they should have, and again, the courage of henry wallace during this week in the south can't be understated. what interests me is the
2:39 pm
of what wasgacy done to the civil rights movement. here it is work obligated and a heralded trial. some critics say yes it was a triumph. there is no question for the new york times that the trip has been a victory for the progressive candidates. he has been able to dramatize the issue of race segregation, that are then -- better than one million words can dramatize it. he put the segregated south in a position where, for better or worse, it will have to think through its problem once again. commended wallace's refusal to submit to segregation, adding a taboo violated with such fanfare can never again be quite as potent. in the midst of a hostile, angry mobs, wallace proved himself a truly distinguished figure ayond establishing at least
2:40 pm
dozen settings that on segregated meetings to be held without civil war, he noted he maybe even jolted the complacency of a few citizens who had never doubted that the lord preferred them to those born with darker skins. on the other side however, the legacy of wallace's recent foray into the south was more symbolic than substantive. his flaunting of jim crow may have inspired some local supporters just about their struggle against determination. but such fleeting moments of defiance to not establish segregation as the nations most pressing racial issue. let alone initiate the process of dismantling it. the shift of consciousness that some historians a documented did not extend far beyond civil rights activists. the gallup poll's indicated that when americans did seem receptive to certain reforms, including repeal of the poll tax
2:41 pm
for example, there was a sign that national moral outrage against segregation really existed yet in 1948. in march, a gallup poll surveying opinion of president truman civil rights program found that 45% of whites outside of the south had never even heard of it. believedy, only 6% truman's program should be passed as a whole. s as well foundn the wallace is 70 was not a pivotal moment. that the progressives hoped it would be. they expressed expect for the candidates the ultimate this was not the first frontal attack on segregation. been organization had holding on syria to meetings in the south since 1934. -- on segregated meetings.
2:42 pm
it made for a lot of bitterness later in the years to come, when the african-american tallies came in on election day and it showed such a disappointing turnout for wallace. wallace later said that he given the negroes their chance, but they had disappointed him. wallace had mistaken emotional fervor for electoral support. election, co appears in, and ask for an american lawyer who ran for jenny general of north carolina, expressed disappointment. conceding to his victorious democrat opponent, he observed that i have been completely repudiated at the polls of durham county come in the precincts that are overwhelmingly negro.
2:43 pm
so this black candidate himself certainly experienced the sense of frustration and despair that came out of the progressive party campaign. ultimately, the progressives outspoken stance on racial equality did not entice black voters away from harry truman in the democratic party. of aal was the experience party worker in arkansas, who try to convert a group of african-american ministers to the wallace cause. commitmentt truman's to an aggressive civil rights agenda was merely a political ploy, he urged them not to be taken in by false promises. while the ministers listen some pathetically, none offered firm commitments. you may not believe truman, one said at last, the dixiecrat's believe him come and that's enough for me. he and his colleagues would vote the president. the dixiecrat revolt undoubtedly helps truman. after the dixiecrat's walked out of the democratic convention,
2:44 pm
there was no question how negroes would vote. the gross felt of the didn't support truman, no other politician would ever defy southerners again. the dixiecrat's insistence on personalizing the issue of civil rights by denouncing the president's betrayal of his race further enhance truman's stature in the african-american communities of the south. when a black reporter asked from thurman what distinguished truman's civil rights record from that of roosevelt, who also promised justice and able opportunity to blacks, the south carolina governor responded candidly -- truman really means it. few african americans failed to take notice of this revealing remark, despite the progressives persist in accusations about truman's insincerity, the majority of african-americans were willing to take the president at his word. his actions, particularly executive orders abolishing
2:45 pm
segregation in the military and establishing the enforcement of fair employment processes and the executor branch carried even more weight. after concluding extensive interviews of african american voters during the campaign, henry moon concluded that as far as the black electorate is concerned, the issue of civil rights -- whether or not the candidate gestures have been motivated i political consideration is little moments. what is important is the record of performance and the prospect for implementing his promises. loyalists claimed that the rising tide of domestic anti-communism sabotage their efforts, scaring away otherwise so pathetic voters. yet such an assessment overestimates the significance of the red issue. this was the height of the red scare, and in the south, it wasn't as much of a salient issue.
2:46 pm
denunciations of wallace as a red may have added to the den of criticism against him, but race, not fear of communism without the fear at the white south's opposition to a third party. bill evans, a common is party member and organizer of the durham textile mill after this. there were workers in my mill who didn't know the difference between communism and rheumatism. all of the owners had to do was raise the race issue, and it would create more issue and excitement among the workers than the communist issue. around here, and alabama farmer said, common is an is anything we don't like. in a 48, an overwhelming majority of white southerners did not like the progressive stance on racial equality. i think this really is the fundamental issue here. the notion that the white south was ready for the civil rights 1948 has been
2:47 pm
overstated. i think the wallace campaign gives some evidence of that. nonetheless, wallace continued to talk about the real south, the south he didn't see, the south that was out there some there -- somewhere. if only he would be allowed to give his message to the real south. what i would argue, taking a page from george tindall, what wallace saw was the real south. it was a myth. it was a comforting social construct with confirmed progressives own ideological and political preconceptions. the southern historian made this a ground for belief. that inises a danger ordering one's vision of reality, the myth a predetermine the categories of perception, rendering one blind to things that do not fit the mental image. again come i think this is applicable to a lot of things in
2:48 pm
our policy, when we have such desire for a myth to be true that it distorts our perception. this is a good case study of it happening in american politics. in conclusion, at a time of such formidable broad-based sources as the cio, and the naacp, were struggling to keep their heads above water in dixie, the openly underfunded,t, political organization well to the left, was not going to attract the kind of support required to launch a successful mass movement. as the campaign headed into its final weeks, wallace and his associates preferred to see their experiences in the south as an affirmation of their basic assumptions, rather than a challenge to them. revealing the strength of lyrical culture that held them together as a party, and also ensure they would remain
2:49 pm
isolated from the american mainstream. [applause] >> we have about 10 minutes of a q&a. microphones are set up in the aisles. please come up and ask any questions you would like to ask. after the short q&a, there will be a book sale out here. tom will be signing his book. thank you again for coming. that was in a club presentation. -- an excellent presentation. >> did anyone in the wallace campaign, any of his advisers, advise him that a civil rights suicidal,n dixie was
2:50 pm
and advise them instead to push the economic and of it? particularly of white mill workers? was there any disagreement in the wallace campaign on that policy? >> know, is the short answer. [laughter] is the short answer. [laughter] suspectedrds, wallace that the communists had used him to store up and agitate the south, as to win support in the north. wallace became quite cynical the way thebout party have become so manipulate it. i think they gave him a raw deal there. i think they were generally surprised at the reception they got. it is hard for us to understand that they wouldn't see this
2:51 pm
coming, but i honestly don't think they did. that tells you something about the idealism of the party. there were a few people outside the party who warned them that this could get really dicey. in fact, it was the journalist, the run skin was on the line there. they were on the train with him. they warned them. but he wouldn't listen to them. i think you was very much a crusader. of a martyromething complex. if that was the way was going to be, then so be it. he would stand up for what he called a moral crusade. i think that is the answer there. no one advising against it. >> richard j walton road book on the subject a couple of decades ago, and talked about the thaton of the support wallace had between the beginning and the end of his campaign, and attributed it in part to truman stratagene -- strategy of tarring the
2:52 pm
progressives as reds. he argues that that was the beginning -- a pave the way for the red scare that followed. i was wondering what you thought of that view? >> that is a cop look at question. -- a complicated question. the red scare implies that there aren't any reds. what i found was that wallace really was surrounded by members of the communist party that concealed their membership from him. the more active group involved in emphasizing the communist issue was a group called americans for democratic action, that were working independent of the truman and the station -- administration. they believed that there was a showdown in american liberalism in 1948 between those that want to ally themselves with the communist, and those like ada, who thought the alliance with
2:53 pm
the communists was bad. they thought it would be bad for liberalism if this group were to gain the upper hand. i think they engaged in a lot of criticism, thinking that if that group one, it would be bad for liberalism as a whole. i argue that ada misconstrued this. the popular front liberal procommunist group was so small, and insignificant, and growing smaller, that the real threat was on the right. that liberalism itself was shrinking in popularity during this time, despite truman winning. election washe 48 not the dictation of liberalism, it was a vindication of truman's new deal. rhetoric,is cold war which i think was quite popular at the time. i would differ from walton a little bit on those issues. >> i appreciate your work.
2:54 pm
i'm sure everyone here does, appreciates the role of history and in the important the paying attention to it. in that regard, i would just ask areto comment, even if you -- i would like to know your point of view about how we should navigate these very politicized and divisive kinds of issues. race still obviously is an issue, but we have many other matters that we confront as the country. without anyone in specific, i would just like you to suggest from what you learned in your research how you would suggest we as a modern politic try to find ways -- there are people out there who are paid to go into the public arena and stoke division and stoke partisanship, and so on. and they reap quite a reward from it. don't hearrds we
2:55 pm
much in politics today -- empathy, patients, and humility. i think the partisan politics of today, as you point out, it plays to the edges. both the left and the right see this as a strategy to mobilize their base. if they can just mobilize their base, they can modify -- win elections. i think it's bad for the country. i think wallace was a well-intentioned person, but if you read some of the speech as he began to give late in the campaign, they are full of bitterness. they are full of provocative rhetoric. it really didn't need to be there. --be fair, truman off on often gets great credit for his speeches, but they are full of demagoguery too. i think asking politicians to show patience, and empathy, mighty whistling in the wind. point we asat some
2:56 pm
a people have to show willingness to be receptive to those kinds of sentiments, rather than the kind of stuff we hear today. think the american people are not extremists. beerally the votes tend to in the center. what is happened today is the center seems to have disengaged. not that it is polarized as much as it says it is, but the center is disengaged because it can't capture invoice. when there is no politician that does capture its voice. name't anyone -- i can't one as a suggestion to look at. i think one of the problems in politics today, if nothing else, i hope the book can show what problems grow out of extremism in politics. >> thank you. why did wallace lose favor with fdr and the democrats? why did he become the candidate for the aggressive party?
2:57 pm
-- the progressive party? >> that is a long question. some historians have claimed that he never lost favor with roosevelt, and somehow political bosses mola belated -- manipulated to get him out. roosevelt knew that wallace was a problem. roosevelt also knew that he was in bad health. there was some concern over whether wallace was a safe candidate to be president. i don't think roosevelt thought he was. as a matter of fact, when wallace came in and said what can i do to help the ticket? what can i do to put the whole team together and make things go better for us? roosevelt suggested he take a trip to siberia. [laughter] >> that's roosevelt. and wallace went. [laughter] by the time he got back, the knife was in, and truman was art of the candidate. that is the first part of the
2:58 pm
question. how did you become a candidate for president in 1948? simple financer, he originally wanted to challenge truman in the primaries. i don't think he ever thought he could beat him, but he thought he might be able to move his whole war policy closer to something that wallace found acceptable. the other answer is the communist party really pushed him quite hard, for his own reasons, which i won't go into in detail, but they were not wallace's reasons. there was a lot of cynicism, a lot of manipulation, and wallace's correspondence in the 1950's, there is a lot of resentment at what the party did to him. needayed on a lot of his to crusade, and to tell the people's views. i don't think i'm provoked by the communist party, wallace necessarily would have gone through with it. there is no way for me to say
2:59 pm
that with great certainty. but most of the people knew him well outside of the party were urging him not to run. he just wouldn't listen. he had so much of a cheering that got him to really consider this independent run. >> thank you. >> i would like you take on this. it has been implied in the library calendar that wallace finishing fourth place was due to his ability to shake the label. wallace wass -- originally a republican. >> and voted for eisenhower twice. >> and i two he supported roosevelt. so you have a republican now supporting a democratic nominee.
3:00 pm
in 19 46, wallace was asked to resign as secretary of commerce. couldn't these skeletons also play a part in his political portfolio? could and the skeletons also play a part in his political portfolio? 1946, you mean he was pushed out by truman out of jealousy? >> e had to resign in 1946. whether he was pushed out or left because it would keep the peace. the point being, he was asked to resign. is somebody asked you to get out, you know -- >> he was asked to resign. it was not his decision. he really bore a lot of personal animosity towards harry truman in the wake of that. in the that against documents. he got over it, which is interesting to me.
3:01 pm
1962, and he died in 1965. he walked up to truman who he denounced in no uncertain terms and said, mr. president, i think you might have been right to get rid of me. [laughter] -- wallacewallace was not a good politician, but he had other good qualities. he grew. he saw he made mistakes not only in strategy and tactics, but he looked back on the 48 campaign. he never said the crusade for peace was bad, but he said the way you went about it might not have been the best way. >> do you feel yet some political enemies? mies. had political ene the city bosses hated him. that is where the whole idea of the city bosses getting rid of him in 1944, i would agree. i think roosevelt had already made the decision to get rid of him. you more or less answered my
3:02 pm
question, but sorry to say i have not done a lot of reading 1948.lace after did he write and say some of the things that you just said? to tellrite a biography how he felt about that? >> nothing for publication. wallace has a wonderful diary but it only goes up to the four years. it is a wonderful source for historians. it has been published in the 1970's. it does not go past 1948. it does not even go to 1948. the stuff i am saying is things i read in his correspondence, which is set correspondence. there is a lot of regrets. even bitterness. in one letter, he actually has some kind words to say about joseph mccarthy going after these people because they are deceitful.
3:03 pm
showed not the political price he paid, but the personal price he paid who, being surrounded by folks immediately did and i think it hurt him personally. -- surrounded by folks who were using him and i think it hurt him personally. i would like to thank you for coming. how thei is wondering vice president might have done in areas with different social economic structures, such as kansas with their old communist communities and farming and maybe the northern industrial in areas. >> what were his views? >> rather, how the boat turned out in those areas as they
3:04 pm
at stronger working class that did not necessarily come from the racist areas of the cell. >> his votes came from intellectual areas. >> [indiscernible] yeah, which is weird. he was a farmer. he did not talk about it much during the campaign because he was assessed with the peace issue and civil rights. wallace did not do well among working-class voters. he did well amongst some slivers here and there of working-class voters who had been associated with left-wing leadership. they themselves might not have been communist, but they had a effective union leaders who provided bread and butter gains for them. those left-wing unions, they supported wallace. it was a very small sliver. most of the vote came from los angeles and new york city, among
3:05 pm
middle-class people, professionals. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of american history programming every weekend on c-span three. follow us on c-span -- on twitter to keep up with the latest history news. >> next, stanford university history professor albert camarillo teaches a class on the end of new deal liberalism and the rise of neoconservatism as marked by the ascendancy of ronald reagan. this political shift was accompanied by what professor camarillo calls the cultural war battles of the 1980's and 1990's and included conservative backlash against the welfare and affirmative action.

8 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on